Kids Dig Archaeology Blog

Layers of Time

Dr. Arty Fax’s Archy Facts is a weekly blog introducing kids (currently stuck at home) to the exciting world of archaeology!

Now that we know how archaeological sites become buried over many years, it’s time to talk STRATIGRAPHY.  Stratigraphy is the study of the natural layering of the ground over time.  As archaeologists excavate, they are carefully digging down through these layers, usually one at a time.

Do you think the layers are older or younger the deeper you go?


Do you know what archaeological site is pictured at the top?
Scroll down to find out!


The further down you dig, the farther back in time you are.  This is the LAW OF SUPERPOSITION, which basically states that the newer stuff is on top of the older stuff.

Sometimes is it impossible to date an artifact itself, so archaeologists may use stratigraphy to help identify how old something is.  This is a RELATIVE DATING method.  It can only determine that an artifact found in one layer is of similar age to other artifacts in the same layer.  It is also older than artifacts found in layers above, and younger than artifacts found in layers below.



Layers of Time Activity Sheet

Terracotta Warriors at Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum
Xi’an, China

Fun Facts:
The Terracotta Warriors depicts the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.  It is part of his tomb complex that stretches over 20 square miles!  Construction began in 246 BCE and there are over 8,000 life-size statues.  No two are alike!  Experts think it took over 700,000 workers about 40 years to finish.

Read more about the Terracotta Warriors here and here.

Want to learn more?

Check out:

Archaeology 101 Exhibit: How Old Is It?

Volunteers work in the Center’s Research Library, cataloguing materials and organizing on a computer-based system.

Marketing and Administrative Volunteers assist the Development Office or Administration Office with data entry, updating marketing materials and clerical tasks. Computer experience is a plus.

Docents welcome visitors and answer general questions regarding the Center and exhibits. Docents staff the gift shop and help out with administrative and curatorial tasks.

Volunteers support event activities at the Center, such as the Annual BBQ, lectures, workshops, and fundraising events. Be a part of the party!

Volunteer provide support for K-12 programs offered at the Center. These are fun, hands-on programs that kids really enjoy. Teaching experience is a plus, but not required. Background checks are required.


With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will use photogrammetry to prepare one or more archaeological collections for digital preservation, as well as create a virtual museum exhibit for our Public Archaeology department. Per approval, special projects of the intern’s choosing are also available. During the research and planning, the intern will receive guidance as appropriate to their selected project. Prospective interns should already be familiar with photogrammetric procedures, and Agisoft Metashape.

Collections Management

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will prepare one or more archaeological collections for curation. During the course of the internship, the intern will learn to identify artifacts and ecofacts common to the San Diego region, including lithics, ceramics, historical objects, and faunal, botanical, and mineral specimens. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological laboratory procedures such as basic artifact analysis, manual and computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and preventative conservation. In addition, the intern will become familiar with historical trends in archaeological practice in the San Diego area and will be introduced to current legal and ethical issues in archaeological curation as well as the concerns and rights of culturally affiliated groups with regard to archaeological materials.

Development and Marketing

Under the direction of Center staff, the intern will support the department in various activities, including, but not limited to, fundraising and grant research; e-newsletter development; social media marketing; and website maintenance. This internship will give the intern valuable, real-world experience in non-profit fundraising and marketing.

Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology

Prospective Interns must have completed three courses: Introduction to GIS, GIS Database Management, and Intermediate/Advanced Methods in GIS. The intern will be assigned a project where they will create shapefiles and maps for curated archaeological collections, museum exhibits, and/or public outreach using ArcGIS 10.6. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological GIS laboratory procedures such as computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and database management.

Library Science

With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will arrange and catalog materials in the Center’s library. During the course of the internship, the intern will take a leading role in the cataloging, sorting and storing of research files and creating user guides for these collections. Center staff will instruct the intern on archival procedures, computer cataloging, storage requirements, and preventative conservation.

Public Archaeology

Harness your passion for Public Archaeology and gain hands-on experience with K-12 museum field trips, lectures, and public outreach. Additional projects may include creating virtual museum exhibits and activities, assisting in the development and implementation of K-12 curricula programs, planning and presenting public facing content, or educational field trip content of your own design. Must be able to pass a Live Scan.